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If your estate equals or exceeds a value of $1 million, or needs special estate planning tools like trusts, it may be best to talk with an attorney.
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Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
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Our Estate Planning Package includes a Last Will & Testament, Health Care Directive & Living Will, and Financial Power of Attorney to cover all of your basic estate planning needs.
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If you have minor children, you will want to name a guardian for them.
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If you have a pet or pets, you will want to name someone to care for them.
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If you want to give items or money to people or charities, you will want to make what are known as “specific gifts.”
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If you own a business or a share of a business, you will want to plan for succession of ownership.
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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Thank you for taking our quiz!
Your answers suggest you might benefit from:

Speaking with
a FindLaw Attorney

Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
What’s included:
  • Being part of a blended family
  • Caring for children with special needs
  • Establishing and maintaining trusts
  • …and any other concerns you have!
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Estate Planning Package

For One Person

$135
What’s included:
  • Last will and testament
  • Health care directive & living will
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • A comprehensive plan — for less
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament

For One Person

$79
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
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Estate Planning Package

For Two People

$255
What’s included:
  • Two wills, health care directives & living wills, and financial powers of attorney
  • Two free HIPAA release forms
  • You and your loved one create your own estate plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Attorney-approved documents customized to your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament

For Two People

$149
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$156
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase

Top 10 Reasons to Have a Will

A “last will and testament” is a legal document that contains instructions on how your property (legally known as your “estate”) should be distributed when you die. By spelling out exactly how you would like your estate handled in the event of your death, a will provides peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones. Here are the top ten reasons to make a will.

Table of Contents

1. Decide How Your Estate Will Be Distributed

A person who makes a will is known as a testator, and those who die without a valid will are said to have died “intestate.” If you die without a will, your estate is distributed according to your state’s intestacy laws. There is no guarantee that these state laws will align with your wishes. The easiest way to avoid this problem is by drafting a will.

2. Decide Who Will Take Care of Your Minor Children

A will allows you to decide who will take care of your minor children in the event of your death. If you do not make this decision in a will and the child’s other parent is not living or available, a court will appoint a guardian. The guardian will most likely be selected from among your family members. However, you know your child best and are probably in a better position than a court to make sure your child does not end up in the wrong hands.

3. Facilitate the Probate Process

Probate is the legal process wills go through to ensure they are valid. The term also refers more generally to the court-supervised process of distributing an estate.

Contrary to popular belief, probate is not always lengthy or expensive. This depends greatly on the size and value of your estate. That said, a clearly drafted will can minimize the delay. For example, if a disgruntled family member “contests” the distribution because they believe they deserve a larger share of your estate, your will can quickly settle the dispute.

4. Minimize Estate Taxes

The process of drafting a will early on provides an opportunity to explore various estate planning tools to minimize your estate taxes. You can also explore ways to reduce the inheritance taxes your loved ones may have to pay when they receive property from your estate. This is particularly useful if you have a very valuable estate that exceeds the federal estate tax exemption.

5. Decide Who Will Administer Your Estate

The person responsible for administering your estate is known as your personal representative. If you do not appoint this person in a will, a court will appoint one for you. Either way, this person is responsible for things like paying your debts, shuttering your bank accounts, canceling your credit cards, and distributing your estate.

Needless to say, this is a position of great trust. A will allows you to appoint someone you know to be responsible and competent. Many people select family members as personal representatives. However, this is not mandatory and may not always be the best option if you are worried about family disputes.

6. Disinherit Individuals You Do Not Want To Receive Your Property

Again, if you do not leave a will behind, probate courts will distribute your estate according to state intestacy laws. These laws create a hierarchy of inheritance among your surviving relatives (known as your heirs) that may not reflect the most current state of affairs between you and your family members.

A will provides an opportunity to specifically include people (known as beneficiaries) who intestacy laws would otherwise leave out. It also allows you to disinherit heirs who would otherwise be included. Make sure your instructions are drafted clearly and unmistakably to help silence family disputes down the road.

7. Make Gifts and Donations

In addition to distributing your estate to your family, a will also allows you to make donations to charitable causes. Further, gifts up to certain amounts may also reduce your estate tax. When drafting your will, make sure you check for the most up-to-date gift tax exclusions.

8. You Can Always Update Your Will

Once you draft a will, it can be updated as your life circumstances change. Your most recent valid will is normally the most authoritative. There are many reasons you might need to update your will. Examples include the birth of a new child, the death of a relative, and divorce.

9. Avoid Legal Challenges

A valid will is a binding document that voices your desires when you are no longer around to speak for yourself. If you’ve read through this entire article, you probably get the gist already. It is worth emphasizing just once more. A well-drafted will reduces the risk of legal challenges.

10. Tomorrow Is Not Promised

A will is an important document that acts as the foundation of your estate plan. Do not procrastinate. Once you pass away, the opportunity to make a will is gone. The result is often a great deal of stress for your surviving family members in a very emotional time.

Next Step: Draft Your Will

This article covers just ten reasons to draft a will. There are more, and you should not hesitate to begin the process soon.

Most estates are not extremely complex. In these cases, you can save time and money by drafting your will using our do-it-yourself estate planning tools. Be sure to read What Not To Include When Making a Will for more information. If you still have questions, you can seek legal advice from an estate planning attorney near you.

Estate planning solutions to fit your needs.

Written by:

FindLaw Staff

Contributing Author

Ally_Marshall_image

Reviewed by:

Ally Marshall, Esq.

Managing Editor